Monthly Archives: January 2019

Cousin Vinny leaving The Beat, to be replaced by Andy Wilson

The Beat's Vinny Barrucco

A surprise announcement this morning at The Beat 92.5: Morning man “Cousin” Vinny Barrucco will be leaving his job to pursue another opportunity. His last day is Friday.

At the same time, the station announced that his replacement will be Andy Wilson, former producer of the morning show on Toronto’s Virgin Radio 99.9. Wilson starts on Monday. The new show will be called “Mornings with Nikki, Sam and Andy.”

Barrucco didn’t say what his new opportunity would be, only that he’s “gonna be taking a break from radio for a little while” and “will announce my next move in the coming months.”

A months-long break might suggest a move to a competitor, which requires him to stay off the air for a while first (generally for three months). But there’s no obvious opening at Virgin Radio (which Barrucco left to join The Beat shortly after it launched in 2011) or CHOM.

“I’ve been on the air for almost 15 years so I’m looking forward to taking a step back and enjoying quality time with my wife and newborn daughter,” Barrucco wrote in his Facebook post. Barrucco and wife Tina Oliveri had daughter Sia born in August.

My contribution to solving the two solitudes: Get bilingual anglos to watch more French TV

I never used to watch French TV. Even in the days of analog cable, we’d skip past Radio-Canada, TVA and TQS to get to CTV, CBC and Global. Wouldn’t even bother seeing what’s on. It was in French, and we didn’t want to watch it.

There were a few reasons for this. One, my French comprehension wasn’t quite good enough at a young age to be able to properly understand the fast-talking faces on screen. The fact that many of these series were primarily dialogue-driven (faute de moyens, as they say) made it worse. But perhaps just as important, I was disconnected from the culture. I didn’t get the popular references, I didn’t know the actors, and I wasn’t familiar with the series.

It changed about 10 years ago. I can’t point to a specific moment, or even say why it happened exactly or what the first show I watched was. But it started not long after I moved into a building where all my neighbours were francophones. Combined with writing this blog and covering media including francophone media, I got exposed to a lot more French than before — reading it, speaking it, understanding it.

Nowadays, French-language TV is a large part of my (rather gluttonous) TV-watching diet. A lot of it is low-budget and has horrible writing. But as American TV has reached its so-called golden age, Canadian TV in both languages has also dramatically improved in writing and production quality, at least at the high end.

Watching French TV has given me a lot more insight into Quebec culture, in addition to providing conversation material for the extended (francophone) family get-togethers on New Year’s Day. It’s something I wanted more people to be exposed to, especially as the idea of “two solitudes” in Quebec seems to persist despite how much of both sides of it understand the other language.

So with that in mind I proposed an idea to the Gazette, which was quickly accepted, to compile a list of suggestions of French TV series for bilingual anglophones to check out. A Top 15 list of French TV series is published in Saturday’s Culture section.

Initially, my plan was to look at series that could serve as gateways for anglos. Series without too much complex, fast-talking dialogue or cultural references. And I didn’t restrict it to fictional series either. But in the end the suggestions were all works of fiction, almost all of them dramas, and heavily weighted to more recent series. And some of these series might not be easiest for people who struggle in French (pro tip: turn on closed captioning. I still have to rely on it sometimes when I can’t make out a key word that was spoken).

As part of the effort to unite the languages, I reached out to some experts for suggestions. Three were kind enough to offer them: Marc-André Lemieux from the Journal de Montréal, Amélie Gaudreau from Le Devoir, and Thérèse Parisien from 98.5 FM and C’est juste de la TV. All three watch TV for a living, so they know what they’re talking about.

I also got plenty of suggestions from Twitter in response to this tweet. As well as several responses from anglos who wanted to take note of those suggestions, which is encouraging.

I intentionally left off Tout le monde en parle, the Sunday night talk show on Radio-Canada, which I think is a special case because it’s big enough to be newsworthy in itself. But I included a bonus mention of C’est juste de la TV, which offers TV suggestions and reviews on a weekly basis.

If I were to suggest other non-fiction series, I would suggest hospital documentary series De Garde 24/7, Radio-Canada’s Enquête, En direct de l’univers, and whatever Véronique Cloutier’s latest variety show is.

Feel free to suggest more series, fiction, non-fiction or other, in the comments. And like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, at least try some before you decide you don’t like it.

Media News Digest: La Presse union deal, Cogeco drops TSN/RDS streaming, new CEOs at Postmedia and Videotron

News about news

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Cogeco completes radio stations’ transition to new antenna on Mount Royal

A five-stage reorganizing of radio station antennas on the Mount Royal Antenna has been completed, with the most notable change being that the city’s most powerful FM transmitter CKOI is now broadcasting from Mount Royal instead of the CIBC building downtown.

Cogeco Media president Michel Lorrain told me the process (approved by the CRTC in September) was completed before the holidays, but the stations were at 80% power until everything could be properly tested, and the ramp up to full power happened last week.

(Warning: Lots of technical nerdy antenna talk ahead.)

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CRTC approves Quebecor’s acquisition of Évasion and Zeste TV channels

Quebec’s television industry is about to lose a voice.

On Monday, the CRTC approved the proposed acquisition of Groupe Serdy, owner of French-language specialty channels Évasion (travel) and Zeste (food) by Quebecor’s Groupe TVA for $21 million.

The acquisition was challenged by V, on the grounds that TVA already has too much power in the market, but the CRTC said the increased market share would be minimal, and in any case still lower than the 45% limit above which it would normally deny such applications.

The application to transfer the licences was supported by dozens of interveners, including many producers.

In addition to $1.8 million in tangible benefits, split between the Canada Media Fund, the Quebecor Fund and Telefilm Canada’s Talent Fund, the transaction will also result in an increase in Canadian spending quotas for both channels, as they’re integrated into the TVA group licence. Évasion must spend 40% of its revenues on Canadian content, while Zeste has no quota. As a condition of approval, both must now come up to the TVA group quota of 45%. And 15% of their revenues must be spent on “programs of national interest” (scripted drama and comedy, documentary and award shows) for the TVA group.

A similar transaction, involving Bell attempting to buy Historia and Séries+ from Corus, was blocked by the Competition Bureau.

CFNV 940 AM begins simulcasting programming from online radio station

Robert Arcand in the CNV studio, via one of its webstreaming cameras

Several radio watchers have noticed that they’ve been hearing live voices on CFNV 940 AM the past few days, talking between the songs and giving weather and news updates.

Though the programming is still mostly music, far from the news-talk-debate format that owner TTP Media promised the CRTC when they first applied for a licence in 2011, or even the wellness-talk format that they seemed to move to when they renewed that licence in 2018, there’s at least something. (The hosts they have are veterans of the low-budget radio scene, where wellness programs have flourished, with shows on stations like CJMS 1040, CJLV 1570.)

But the voices are not original to the station. Instead, the shows are being simulcast from Mirabel-based digital radio station CNV (it appears to be a mix of programming from its main feed and its Succès absolus second channel, but there’s also some music that’s coming from neither of those sources).

Hosts being simulcasted include Robert Arcand (weekday mornings) and Diane Lafrance (weekdays at 11am). On their shows and on social media, they’re noting the simulcast.

No word on anything yet from the English sister station CFQR 600. I’ll update this if I hear more.

Media News Digest: Public editor roundups, Brunette is Breakaway’s new host, Chesterman retires Gazette column

Okay everybody, back to work. Here’s what you missed over the holidays.

News about news

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Nat Lauzon on her ears, her job, her love of dogs and random other stuff

Nat Lauzon in The Beat’s studio

In the decade or so I’ve been writing about local media, I’ve met most of the people in local TV and radio, at least in passing. But until December, Nat Lauzon wasn’t one of those people. She has worked weekends since 2011, so that has a lot to do with it. In fact, the only photo I had of her was this one taken of her while she was on the Virgin float at the St. Patrick’s Parade in 2011.

Nat Lauzon in 2011.

Nevertheless, I’ve wanted to write about her for a bit, because of the ironic situation she faces, being a person who deals with audio for a living but is losing her hearing.

It didn’t take long to convince my newspaper that this was a good story, and the result is this article that appears in Thursday’s paper. It focuses almost exclusively on an area in Lauzon’s head that’s smaller than a grape (or, well, two grapes since there’s one on each side), but since I had the chance to sit down with her, we talked about a bunch of other stuff, too.

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